Movie Review: DEEP IN THE WOOD There Lies A Deeper, Darker Secret

DITW

In an Alpine Valley town of Northern Italy there is a yearly festival held on December 5th. Many of the townsfolk take to the streets, disguised as a mythical (?) demonic creature known as Krampus. According to legend, the real Krampus walks hidden among them during this annual brouhaha, with the intent of stealing away with naughty and disobedient children. Throughout the years many children have vanished with no trace, and have never been seen or heard from again.

On one such night a man named Manuel joins others from the town, who regale in this traditional celebration. After the festivities have died down, Manuel joins some of his fellow Krampus impersonators to imbibe and unwind. His very young son, Tommi, has just witnessed the frightening spectacle and pleads for his father’s attention. However, Manuel is having too good a time boozing it up to care. Tommi, having just been rebuffed by his father runs off on his own, finding his way deeper into the cold, dark, snow covered alpine woods. He comes across a shack in the distance with light radiating through the windows.

Only after Tommi’s mother, Linda, and Manuel discover their son has not returned home, they begin to frantically search for him with the assistance of the local authorities. Despite the fact that Tommi has completely disappeared leaving no evidence as to how or why, his father becomes the primary suspect and is accused of his son’s murder and subsequent concealment of the body. With no proof that Manuel has perpetrated any crime against his son, he is released by the police. But the next few years would be less than ideal for a man under constant scrutiny, especially when his grief stricken wife unsuccessfully attempts suicide. But in any event, for the next five years the search for Tommi would still carry on.

Then one day, two construction workers discover a young boy hiding out on their work site. He is not a local boy and authorities’ suspect he may have been abandoned by a gypsy caravan, which has pulled up stakes and moved on to parts unknown. On the other hand, could this unknown boy be a familiar child who has not been seen in five years? Could this actually be Tommi, returning after five years? It turns out that it is, and has been proved as such by way of a DNA test.

At this point Tommi’s parents are estranged, and there are no guarantees that his return will heal old wounds. On top of that, there is something peculiar about this boy. Is it the result of so many years away from his loving family? Or is there an even darker and sinister secret behind Tommi’s sudden reappearance?

Stefano Lodovichi was at the helm for this film, which he wrote with Isabella Aguilar and Davide Orsini. This story manages to fit quite a lot of substance into a limited amount of time. I was actually quite surprised that the film is as short as it is given the amount of story, both current and prior, that is conveyed. The story and its direction may seem cut and dry at times, but the third act really lends credence to the expression that “assumption is the mother of all fuck ups”. The real surprise, aside from the resolution/revelation at the end, is that this story picks up a lot of steam in its third act, a place where many thrillers struggle to maintain sufficient momentum. Mystery and misdirection truly served as an ally to the writers and their story.

The entire cast did a great job, as there was not a single performance that came across as disingenuous. But I do have to single out Filippo Nigro and Camilla Filippi in their roles as Tommi’s parents, Manuel and Linda. Nigro displayed a certain stoic nature in his portrayal. He makes Manuel appear to be a compassionate and caring individual while also being strong enough to push on through the turmoil and accusations following Tommi’s disappearance. Filippi truly makes Linda out to be a woman who is struggling intensely to reconcile her emotional devastation, brought on by the loss of her son. Even when he returns her emotional pain seem become even more twisted and tangled. I also have to admit that Teo Achille Caprio’s portrayal of a nine year old Tommi made his character enigmatic until the end. Giovanni Vettorazzo , Stefano Pietro Detassis, Maria Vittoria Barrella, Roberto Gudese, and Luca Filippi made up a supporting cast whose character portrayals helped form a  very solid foundation on which the story could rest.

Visually they film benefits from good cinematography and a beautiful setting. Benjamin Maier did a great job as cinematographer on this film. His shot composition and camera movement coupled with Roberto Di Tanna’s editing created a good looking and well aced film. And the location of Trento, Trentino – Alto Adige, Italy provides a beautiful and picturesque town as a backdrop for this story to take place.

I will admit that I found this movie to be more mystery thriller than horror, BUT I liked it just the same. It has some requisite horror related devices planted throughout that will entice the viewer to follow a certain path, only to reveal it’s not quite the path they believed it to  be. Frankly, I like it when a film causes the viewer to take that hard left turn into a conclusion they might not have considered. Do be warned, that if you don’t like to “read your movies” (ugh, it infuriates me when people say that) it may not be for you, since the dialogue is Italian with English subtitle. It is also dark and gloomy and without humor, but often times…such is life. But I still feel justified giving Deep in the Wood  7 ½ /10.


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